How Web Hosting and The Internet Work Together

Access to the Internet may seem as easy as clicking the Internet Explorer icon on your desktop, but the underlying technologies and networks that make this access possible for you are hard to explain within the scope of an article.

However, we will still take an attempt to decipher the workings of the Internet for new website owners out there. So that they can make sense of where their own website fits in this colossal World Wide Web.

No matter how centralized the Internet may look from the surface, there?s no single authority that maintains controls over it. It is made up of each computer that is connected to it. These computers are called nodes and the way they are connected is through paths. The Internet itself is nothing but a complete picture of these connected nodes and paths.

The popularly known part of the Internet comprises of web servers, computers, ultra portable PC?s, cellular devices etc. These devices store data and make it accessible to users at large but hidden from the eyes of public is the domain system that lays the foundation of Internet?s hierarchical structure.

Everyone that uses Internet is familiar with domain extensions like .com, .net, .biz etc. But not everyone realizes that these are not mere extensions but the root part of the domain itself, also known as Top Level Domains. These TLD?s are maintained by a number of non-profit firms.

Derived from these TLD?s are Second Level Domains such as Yahoo.com, which can further be divided into www.yahoo.com. Technically speaking, www.yahoo.com is a sub-domain yet many think of it as the domain itself. There could be many other sub-domains like mail.yahoo.com, ftp.yahoo.com etc. These could be either individual servers or specific services available at the yahoo.com domain.

It?s these host domains and the hardware & software they comprise of that forms a network. Add up all of these individual networks based on domains and you have a snapshot of the Internet.

Having described what constitutes the Internet, let?s have a look at how a web page you request from a server is served. Anytime you request a web page to be displayed by your browser, either by following a hyperlink on another web page or by entering the URL in address bar, the browser makes contact with the server hosting that web page and request for data transfer. The server then sends the requested web page in pieces also called packets in networking terminology.

The browser starts displaying these packets as it receives and that?s why most of the times you get images and text displayed in a random fashion. If any packet takes too long to reach the destination a ?timeout? may occur.

The only way these packets find their way is because every machine connected to the Internet has an IP address associated to it, either on temporary or dedicated basis. But since IP addresses are hard to remember for humans, Internet uses a translating mechanism that converts IP addresses into easy to remember domain names.

That?s how Internet basically works.

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